Oxfam urges WTO chief to remember development promises

Published: 6 April 2006

Colorful demonstration highlights power imbalance in talks

Development must be put back at the center of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks or poor countries will lose out, said international agency Oxfam today as the WTO Director General, Pascal Lamy met Indian government and industry officials for talks in Delhi.

Oxfam campaigners staged a demonstration for Mr. Lamy calling on him to make sure the needs of developing countries are not forsaken in the trade talks, due to wind up this year.

Representing the Make Trade Fair campaign Lucky Ali, the Indian musician, met Pascal Lamy and urged the WTO to be sensitive towards the plight of the millions of Indian farmers. He said that the "human face" mustn't be lost in these WTO talks and Lamy, as the head of WTO, should take into account the worsening conditions of Indian men and women who have a 7000-year old dependence on agriculture.

Responding to Lucky Ali, Lamy said, “Farmers need to negotiate better and strengthen their voices so that trade is fairer. How do you do that? You sit around the table and talk. The WTO is that platform. If you like what you are being offered you take it and if you don't, you reject it."

During the demonstration, Lucky also formally announced his support for Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign. Lucky joins a galaxy of international stars including Antonio Banderas, Chris Martin and Minnie Driver, demanding that world leaders honor their promises to change the rigged rules of world trade.

Lucky Ali, speaking as the Make Trade Fair Envoy, said: "India being an agrarian society, I am aware of the kind of difficulties our poor farmers face to survive. Because of the Make Trade Fair campaign, I am beginning to learn how trade can work for these poor farmers and I am happy to support a campaign that speaks for them."

A giant puppet Ravana (made by noted puppeteer Varun Narayan) symbolized power and the double standards of rich countries in the trade talks. The ten heads of Ravana had the faces of the G8 leaders, Pascal Lamy, and the WTO. More than a hundred farmers accompanied Oxfam and its partners, CCD, Cecoedecon, Yuva and Ekta Parishad, at the protest.

Palash Kanti Das, Regional Policy Advisor, on Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign said: "The needs of developing countries are being neglected in these talks and rich countries are breaking their promises. We are calling on Pascal Lamy to make sure that poor countries are not forced into accepting a bad deal just for the sake of meeting a deadline.”

Contact Information

For further information on the event, contact the Make Trade Fair Team in India:
Palash Kanti Das: +91 11 9899976102; Orchie Bandyopadhyay: +91 11 9899734359;
or Madhusree Banerjee: +91 11 9810360435;
or Oxfam International Press Officer Amy Barry on +44 (0) 7980 664 397